Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Strong Minded
  • Birthday 08/18/1960

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed last year, but knowing how badly that was going to go, I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  1. That's true, but they might point to II Peter 3:15-16. (It says that the unstable will twist Paul's words, just like they do the other scriptures.) Of course, most scholars don't believe that Peter wrote this epistle. It wasn't accepted in the 2nd century, and was only added to the canon later. See here.
  2. "The Bible isn't like any other book!" When someone is trying to convince you that the god they call "God" is real, that Jesus was/is this god's son and is deity himself, and that you should reconsider the things that made you finally conclude, after months or years of intense Bible study, that there's nothing to the religion after all (after having been a believer since you were old enough to believe anything at all), this is one of the arguments they often think you can't possibly have an answer to. So, let's look at that argument. Is the Bible unlike any other book? This post, an article called "Why Reading the Bible Straight Through is Usually a Bad Idea," makes the point the the Bible is unlike any other book because it isn't actually a book, it's more like a library. That's true, but it isn't a reason to believe it. In fact, as the article points out, "the books have different genres, written in different styles with different purposes." What's more, the books were written over many years by people who had different beliefs about the nature of God. You've no doubt heard the statement (made by the folks at "Answers in Genesis" here) that "despite forty authors writing from three continents over nearly two thousand years, it maintains a perfect consistency of message" (or something similar). The usual scripture that Biblical inerrantists like to use is 2 Tim. 3:16-17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." They interpret this to mean that everything from Genesis to Revelation is 100% true and 100% consistent. They assert that because this god is omniscient and omnipresent, he could have made it that way, and therefore he would have. This post on cfaith.com states that explicitly. And unlike the first article linked above, if this reason it's unlike any other book were true, it would be a reason to believe it and to be a Christian. But is it true? The books of the Bible comprise something more than just different genres with different purposes. They comprise a range of beliefs, showing us how the beliefs of the various "inspired" authors (in the Old Testament, the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel, and in the New Testament the proponents of Christianity) changed over the centuries. Inerrantists try to impose the ideas in the New Testament upon the Old Testament, but those ideas don't really fit. In fact, the Old Testament itself shows quite a bit of evolution of beliefs from the beginning to the end. Take the ideas of eternal reward and eternal punishment: This is nowhere to be found in the Old Testament. We see Enoch and Elijah being taken up and never dying, but other than that, there's nothing about people going to be with God. Nothing in the Law of Moses or in the books of the prophets threatens the Children of Israel with eternal punishment if they're unfaithful. The only threat is that their nation will be taken away from them. We see a few non-specific mentions where someone who died is said to have gone to "be with their fathers" (referring to the burial place in their homeland, not to the hereafter), and David, when the child of Bathsheba dies, says "he can't come to me, but I will go to him," but we can't infer that the place he thought he would go to was Heaven. In fact, when the witch of Endor summons Samuel (I Samuel 28), Samuel comes up, not down. Up from where? The "underworld" seems the most likely place, as most ancient people believed there was a place that departed spirits went that was below the Earth. That's what the Hebrew word Sheol means. Both the good and the evil were thought by the Israelites to go there when they die. This is wholly inconsistent with the New Testament. Somewhere between Malachi and Matthew, the Jews picked up a belief in not only being rewarded by going to live in Heaven, but of the possibility of being punished eternally in Hell. The Sadducees did not believe this: This article from Britannica.com states "the Sadducees refused to go beyond the written Torah (first five books of the Bible) and thus, unlike the Pharisees, denied the immortality of the soul, bodily resurrection after death, and the existence of angelic spirits." We see this in the Bible as well. In their view, the idea of life after death was unscriptural! But it was widely believed in the first century, and thus became part of Christian doctrine. We can clearly see that this is a change in doctrine from the beginning to the end of the Bible. My favorite example of evolution of beliefs is that found in the "Song of Moses" in Deuteronomy 32. Here we see how the Children of Israel believed that The LORD came to be their god. You should read this in the English Standard Version because it uses older manuscripts as its source than most other Bible translations. It states there that the Most High god divided the people of the Earth into nations -- one nation for each of his sons -- and that "The LORD's portion" were the descendants of Jacob. In other words, they believed at that time that The LORD (probably "Yahweh" originally) was one of the sons of the Most High god. He was far superior to his brothers, who ruled the other nations, but at this time he was not believed to be the only god. The belief that The LORD was the only god, and the same as The Most High, came later, and you can see this change in beliefs as you read through the Bible. In fact, in Psalm 82 we see these other sons of God losing their divinity and being told that they will eventually die. They can't lose their divinity if they never had it! An interesting thing in the case of Deuteronomy 32 is that when the Masoretic text was compiled (600-1000 AD, not BC), the scribes/scholars changed the wording here! (Most Bible translations use the Masoretic text as their Old Testament source, so compare any other version with the ESV.) Why would they do this? Well I wouldn't suggest that they were being dishonest. They may well have thought that the phrase "sons of God" was an idiom. After all, they didn't believe that Yahweh had sons, so they tried to figure out what the original author meant. They came up with "children of Israel." In making the assumption that the original wording represented an idiom, they unknowingly imposed their 7th century beliefs upon the ancient text. They tried to force the entire library that is the Bible to be consistent, but it wasn't. There are many other examples of inconsistencies in the Bible, not just differences between the beginning and end, but irreconcilable differences within just the Gospels which were written within a period of only 40 to 60 years. These that I've pointed out are enough to prove that the claim of the inerrantist is false. There's a tendency by inerrantists to blame the reader for not being able to ignore the contradictions, as in this article, which states " if we cannot resolve a difficulty, that is a problem with our understanding, not a problem with the Bible." The truth is that there is often no way around the discrepancies. The truth is that there are prophecies in the Bible that didn't come true, such as the conquering of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar in Ezekiel 26 -- Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years but failed to take it. The outline linked here is from a Biblical inerrantist who explains in section IV that Nebuchadnezzar failed, but in section V dismisses this failure and states that the specifics of the prophecy eventually all came true. If they weren't fulfilled by the one prophesied to do it, then the prophecy was wrong. Of course, this isn't a book written by Ezekiel, it's a book written about Ezekiel. This is a story about a prophecy, written many years later. The error here is that the author got his history wrong, not that an actual prophet predicted an event that failed to come true. The truth is that the Gospels contradict each other. In John 20, Mary Magdalene tells Peter and John that someone has taken Jesus' body out of the tomb, and the two of them run to the tomb to see that it is empty. In Luke 24 the women were told, right there at the tomb, that Jesus had risen. They go tell the 11 remaining apostles, and Peter runs to the tomb to see. Both stories cannot be true, and it is not a failure of the reader to understand. These stories are very clear! There is a sense in which the Bible is unlike other books, but it isn't true in the claimed way, and that should be enough for anyone who has believed this to change their mind. Perhaps it doesn't mean they would no longer believe in this god, but they certainly ought to change their views about the nature of the Bible and their religion. Most Christians are not fundamentalists. Those who are need to learn that Fundamentalist Christianity is based on assertions about the Bible that are demonstrably false, and then begin to search for the truth. Whether that leads them to mainline Christianity or to the belief that Judaism and Christianity are simply mythology like all of the other religions that are practiced now or are long dead, they'll be better off.
  3. And there it is... a guilt trip masquerading as sympathy. My wife's name appears in the church bulletin every week (email only, not printed). She's on the list of people who have health conditions that often prevent them from being at church. She has fibromyalgia, and insomnia, too, and she doesn't "do mornings." Doctor appointments are always scheduled in the afternoon. We don't have service people come to the house in the morning, either. That just doesn't work. This is a 3-times-a-week church: Sunday morning, Sunday night (the majority of the people at that service were also there in the morning), and Wednesday night. My wife doesn't often make it Sunday morning, but she's usually there Sunday night. She's on the list because she wants to make sure people understand that there's a reason she's only there on Sunday night, and so they won't think she's just a "weak Christian." The church has four "encouragement groups" that occasionally get together at someone's house for a meal, but mostly what they do is meet after the Sunday night service once a month and sign cards to be mailed. When my sister died, I got one card from an individual, and one card from one of these groups. This is a church with about 200 people in attendance on a typical Sunday morning. My wife gets a card from one of the groups about once a month. Usually the notes say something like "we've been missing you." The thing is, if they were paying attention they wouldn't be missing her, because she's usually there on Sunday night. They have to walk right past her to get to the card-signing session! And she doesn't leave in a hurry once church is over, either. She's one of the last people to leave. She gets cards, but what she never gets are phone calls from people asking if she'd like them to come visit, or perhaps bring some food over, or if she's feeling up to it, to go to lunch, or even just calling to have a friendly conversation. Just cards. The last card she got had a note from a person that really shows the purpose of these things: It's a guilt trip. While most people say they miss her and hope she starts feeling better, and that they're praying for her, this person wrote "We hope you'll be able to encourage us with your presence soon!" That's Church-of-Christ thinking. If you're not there, then gee-whiz, someone else may notice that, get discouraged, and not show up next week! You wouldn't want that on your conscience, would you? Of course, I already know that they think this way, but it was funny to see someone actually put it in writing on one of these "thinking of you" cards.
  4. Lerk

    God....and Prayers.

    A facebook friend (and Methodist minister) recently posted something to the effect of "'Thy Will Be Done' -- the prayer that never fails." She clearly didn't understand how ironic that is. If this god were real, it would be his ultimate "get out of all responsibility" card. What it really is, is the best way for a person to ignore any cognitive dissonance they may experience. Another thing I've noticed is people who have a lot of problems, after they've described the latest serious difficulty in their life, adding "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." Really? They're receiving no help at all beyond, for instance, what the doctors can do for them at the moment, and they can't figure out what's wrong, yet they end this by claiming that their god must be doing good things for you even though they have no idea what those good things are. The reality is that they're trying to remain faithful, even though there's no reason to. But they believe that they must. It's sad.
  5. Lerk

    It just didn't add up

    I didn't read "The Case for Christ" until I had deconverted. Part of my "due diligence" I suppose. My impression was that he must have been a terrible reporter! He says he was an atheist, yet he only interviewed believers. I didn't believe him... he either was, or desperately wanted to be, a believer. And the writing was like bad fiction! He mentions some look of facial expression of the person he's interviewing in every single paragraph! Terrible drama! I quit reading in the chapter where he mis-quotes the inscription on the arch at Miami University. If he can't even get that right (he mis-quotes it twice in the same chapter) then how can I believe that the quotes from his interviews are accurate, or that he was even paying attention. He seems to have used audio equipment to record the interviews, yet he imagines them pausing before they sit down, or glancing at him with a twinkle in their eye before answering his question. Right, sure thing Lee. You're making shit up.
  6. Lerk

    I Just Realized That I Don't Want to Be a Christian...

    Maybe for now, but I hope those thoughts eventually bring you peace. The Bible is bullshit. People who try to live by it, and who try to force others to live by it, have been deceived -- not by a higher power, but -- by the meme that is called Christianity. I hope that once you've gotten over the initial shock, you'll truly feel a peace that passes anything that the Christian can understand.
  7. Lerk

    Long overdue hello to all!

    Instrumental music in church!? Buncha liberals! 😉 (Just one of the many reasons people in my denomination (which claims not to be a denomination) think they're they only ones going to Heaven.)
  8. Lerk

    Hello!

    Remember, the only place in the Old Testament where Satan appears is in the book of Job, and he doesn't act the same as the Satan of the New Testament. Satan in Job is on speaking terms with God! In Job, God puts Satan up to the dirty deeds, and starts the whole thing by bragging! NT Satan runs around trying to tempt people. The Jews seem to have transferred the properties of the evil god of the Persians, Angra Mainyu (who was the opponent of the good god Ahura Mazda), to the Satan of the book of Job. He couldn't be a god in their religion, and they already knew about him, so they took the Zoroastrian gods' traits and applied them to the beings in their own religion. What are Satan and the demons other than lesser gods (without being called gods)? Christianity was born in the environment where the Jews had fully embraced these concepts. You won't find them in the Old Testament!
  9. Lerk

    My Long-Awaited Introduction

    Welcome aboard! My wife (age 62) was diagnosed with fibro way back when nobody had ever heard of it. And she's been clinically depressed since before I new her (we started dating in 1979). I've often wondered whether the fibro was caused by or exacerbated by the depression, and whether the guilt associated with being a Christian had anything to do with it. A woman at a health-food store told her that she had once been a member of the Church of Christ, and that when she changed churches her fibro went away! I wasn't an atheist then, but I was really tempted to try a different church. (Somehow that never happened.) But in many cases there are no such circumstances, so it does seem there's a physical cause that just hasn't been found yet. Anyway, glad you're free from Christianity. I hope you see some improvement in your physical health so that you can enjoy your newfound freedom.
  10. Lerk

    Inaugural Entry

    About a year and a half ago I ended up "going forward" because I had been outed to the elders. I was tempted to say "screw it" and just quit, but I have a son who is a preacher and it would potentially have caused problems with my (and my wife's) spending time with them and our grandchildren, so I went to the front on a Wednesday night and "repented." After that I took my name off of the lists to lead singing, lead prayers, etc. And some time later, one of the elders asked me how I was doing, in such a way that I understood him to mean "how are you doing spiritually?" I answered truthfully: "I'm good!" In my mind I figured I was doing better than he was, because he's still a believer. If you believe in mythology, you aren't doing so well!
  11. Lerk

    Spring is Coming

    I personally had no trouble with the "purpose" thing when I deconverted. I still have a job, I'm still married, I still have things to do and reasons to do them, so the fact that I now realize there are no such things as gods and that I'm not beholden to ones called Jehovah and Jesus didn't take away from my day-to-day responsibilities. And to me, those things are my "purpose." I guess it never got drummed into me that I was supposed to have some sort of externally given purpose. I'm glad I never learned that, because I don't have to deal with that sense of loss! I actually gained some purpose, because I now feel like it's important to make life as pleasant as possible for myself and the people around me. Not that I think I'm responsible for other people's happiness, just that I should be the kind of person that takes other people's happiness into consideration when possible or reasonable.
  12. Lerk

    Inaugural Entry

    I agree about being "closer to fine" than ever. (I assume you're referencing the "Indigo Girls" song?) For the most part, I'm in the closet as an atheist. (Long story having mostly to do with avoiding conflict.) But just the fact that I know these people are practicing mythology, and that they really believe it, makes it easier for me to live among it and not let it bother me. I don't have to try to please some invisible deity any more, or figure out what the deity wants based on a book; rather, I just have to live my life in the way that seems most reasonable.
  13. Lerk

    Hello fellow heathens!

    "Christianism" -- I like that better than "Christianity". Welcome aboard!
  14. Lerk

    Shared Experiences and Hello

    I like to say that even if there are such things as gods, none of the ones that people believe in are real, especially the god(s) in the Bible. And the one god that Christians believe in isn't the only god that the Bible in various places says is real! The Bible starts out with multiple gods (The Most High and his sons), transitions to a place where one of those sons (Yahweh/Jehovah) is the god of Israel and way better than his brothers, then later to his brothers not being real and there being only one god, and finally to a place where there are three gods who are somehow actually part of the one god. If people understood that, they wouldn't believe in the Bible.
  15. If you're calling yourself "Weezer," should you not use a picture of Buddy Holly?